Dhanurdhara Swami November 4th, 2001
Downloading e-mail in India, especially in a small town like Govardhana, can be time consuming. I just don’t have time for it during Kartik. Even the mode of the whole operation would impair my life here. Luckily, an old colleague has offered to do it for me weekly in Vrindaban. So it’s off to Vrinbaban to send off the journal and quickly check my mail.
At 7 AM I leave for Vrindaban on a tempo, an archaic Indian put-put open taxi, pouring soot emissions into the cab?an antique of sorts imported from Germany in 1937, now built in India, but without a single change in design in 64 years! The advantage? If you like the native flavor, it’s the mode of travel by the locals, the village brijabasis, and it’s cheap. Damn cheap. The 14 rupee fee (.25 US) suits my budget for my stay here if I am to make the weekly one-hour trip.
I hop off the tempo in front of the ISKCON Krishna-Balaram Mandir. Naturally, I meet many friends. It takes a half-hour just to walk forty feet into the building. Several visitors have been looking for me wanting to know if I will be doing any parikramas. I politely refuse, but I’m torn. A sadhu, as much as possible, is open and welcoming when a person approaches for spiritual help. I try to be that way and it also suits my nature. This month, however, is reserved for myself. If I give, give, give, and don’t put anything in, what will be left to give? This is the month to get something to give, and I’m resolute in my purpose, although it pains me to see acquaintances somewhat lost here in Vrindaban.
By nature, I’m somewhat extroverted. I use the term not so much in the sense of frailty, but as a disposition. An extrovert is more energized by the external environment, by people, and less inclined to the lonely internal world of solitude, thoughts, and dreams. An introverted disposition is the opposite. Years of practicing Krishna consciousness, however, has tempered my disposition. My room on the roof of the Bhaktivedanta Ashram is cave-like. To enter its three-foot walls you have to pass through two thick doors, and when the windows are closed, it is silent and pitch black. I like the cave and rarely leave except for the lone daily march around Govardhana. I am happy in my world of japa, thoughts, and dreams?at least for the month.
The sweetest part of the day: Damodarastakam (the eight verses in glorification of Lord Damodara). Raghunananda is a simple village man from Orissa. He is also surprisingly a sangeet-acarya?a master of classical Vaishnava song. I don’t have much of an ear for music, but I’ve never heard singing like Raghunananda in the evening at the small temple here. The beauty and richness of his voice and the subtle, wholly unpretentious devotional nuances of his singing enraptures our small gathering.